INDEPENDENCE, Iowa --- By filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Ryan St. Anne Scott has effectively blocked attempts by creditors to collect, according to an attorney pursuing a civil lawsuit.
Scott, who dresses like a Benedictine monk and calls himself the Most Reverend and Lord Abbot, took possession of the former Buchanan County home in April.
Scott, whose real name is Randell Stocks, calls his new facility the Buchanan Abbey, and it is a continuation of a failed venture in Galesburg, Ill., called the Holy Rosary Abbey.
Since then, a district court in Knox County in Illinois directed a $161,000 summary judgement against Scott and the Holy Rosary Abbey. A former member of his alleged religious community, Sheila Anderson, initiated the lawsuit based on outstanding loans to Scott.
Scott and his Holy Rosary Abbey earlier this month filed for bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Central Illinois. A meeting for the Holy Rosary Abbey's creditors is set Jan. 13 in Knox County in Illinois.
Attorney Dan Deneen plans to attend. He represents Anderson.
With the bankruptcy petition, Scott put an automatic stop on creditors, and a hearing on Anderson's lawsuit scheduled Wednesday in Knox County will be delayed.
"The civil case needs to be stayed at this point, which means that I cannot continue to prosecute it and the court puts it aside," Deneen said.
That doesn't mean Deneen is without options, however.
"We will discuss with a bankruptcy attorney obtaining a relief of stay against Randell Stocks or whatever he pretends his name is these days," Deneen said.
Scott also missed a district court-ordered deadline Dec. 16 to surrender relevant financial records.
"He previously provided hand-written register reports with receipts for various months and a box of bank statements," Deneen said. "He did not produce any of the other required corporate records, including corporate minutes, tax returns, financial statements or other official documents."
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court also ordered Scott to file additional documents, including a statement of his financial affairs and schedule of income and expenditures. Judge Thomas Perkins gave Scott until Tuesday to produce them, according to court documents.
If Scott fails to do so, the bankruptcy court will dismiss the case. Creditors would then again be able to pursue claims against Scott, the Holy Rosary Abbey and perhaps the Buchanan Abbey.
According to the Illinois Secretary of State's Office, Scott also failed to file an annual report. Consequently, the Holy Rosary Abbey is not a corporation in good standing in his former state.
"Theirs was due Oct. 1," a spokeswoman for the office said.
"We give them a five-month grace period to file that report. If they don't, then we will dissolve the corporation," she added.
A real estate contract Scott signed with Buchanan County shows Scott must carry insurance for at least 80 percent of the property's value until final payment. Scott has until April 2013 to pay off the balance on the $125,000 sale plus 3 percent interest.
According to Ellen Gaffney, a member of the Buchanan County board of supervisors, Scott has made the monthly $1,000 payments, including the one for December.
"We have not heard anything from him on the insurance," she added.
"We would like to have it insured," Gaffney said. "He keeps telling us that he's trying to get it."
That Scott is offering Mass and apparently welcoming at least a few guests into the Buchanan Abbey may have complicated insurance and building code issues for Scott.
"He opened the building to the public ... That's where he ran into problems," Gaffney said.
Scott and an associate, Brother Gregory Joseph, also known as Barry Rodgers, apparently are running or intend to manage other businesses out of the Buchanan Abbey.
Articles of incorporation filed with Iowa Secretary of State's Office show Scott is calling his new venture in Buchanan County the Congregatio Ordinis Sancti Benedicti, Latin for Congregation of the Order of St. Benedict. Its purpose is to "practice our faith under the guidelines of the traditional Roman Catholic Church prior to the changes of Vatican Council II, under direction of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict."
According to the document, Scott's group plans to establish religious communities for men and women, establish houses of prayer, provide assistance to the needy, encourage family values, publish books, papers and audio visual materials and "foster growth in spirituality." The rural property also supports two dozen or more Argentine llamas Scott and his followers moved from Galesburg.
According to supporting paperwork, outlets will include the Holy Rosary Abbey led by Scott. Rodgers, however, will preside over business entities known as the Buchanan Abbey; Monastic Fleece; St. Philomena Convent; International Garden of Our Lady of Tears; Scriptorium Benedictum; and Humm's & Hugs Llama Therapy.
James Inghram is bankruptcy trustee for Scott's case in Illinois. His job will be to track down assets for liquidation and distribution to the Holy Rosary Abbey's creditors.
Inghram said he is familiarizing himself with the details of Scott's financial situation but noted potential areas of concern.
"It sounds like there have been some issues with this fellow," Inghram said.
One question to investigate as he reviews Scott's finances is whether Scott has been "using a religious shell to obtain assets," Inghram said.